I am not a realtor, so I have no vested interest in steering you in any direction. I took a new position with my employer, bringing me to NYC 7 years ago.
After studying MANY communities, we settled on West Windsor. The schools were a primary factor, along with proximity to a great train station (Princeton Jct) with express trains into the city every 15 minutes and great shopping options nearby, despite the almost rural suburb setting.
Relative to schools, I have three kids. My oldest just graduated HS, and my youngest is now starting Middle School. This means that over the last seven years, we have had experienced four schools Hawk (K-3), Village (4,5), Grover (6-8), and South (9-12). My wife and I have been thrilled by the quality of all the schools. Class sizes ~20, teachers are great, students are motivated, and they have an excellent orchestra program starting in the 4th grade. They also offer a great diversity of courses that allow those inclined to really push themselves. We are so impressed that we feel obligated to stay in WW until our youngest gets through HS. I don't know of any parent in the district that feels differently. I suggest that you study some of the school comparisons that are published annually. These will provide some quantitative support for the relative quality of schools.
Also, you should know that Plainsboro and West Windsor share the school district, and zoning is such that they maintain a good balance of WW and Plainsboro kids in each school. The quality of all schools is also equitable across the two HS's as well as the various Middle Schools and Elementary schools in the district.
Relative to the difference between WW and Plainsboro, they are fairly similar. However, I believe Plainsboro may have a higher proportion of smaller SFH's and townhomes than WW, which tends to have larger homes on 3/4 acre lots.
I hope this helps. Good Luck!
Congratulations on selling your Hillsboro home. If you are happy with how the agent (assuming you used one) worked for you, give them your loyalty and trust. If you were less than thrilled shoot me an email or call. I routinely sell in all these markets (currently have contracts in West windsor, Princeton, Hopewell and closed last month in Montgomery)
West Windsor Plainsboro are my niche areas & all of the homes I've sold since September 2007 ( 99% working with buyers) are in WWP.........the client testimonials ( more recent ones) are from my clients who bought in this area.
This means, that I could provide you with a "hands on" knowledge of current inventory ( types of homes available in different communities) , price points & what to look for & what to watch out for.
If you're ready to move forward with your search & work in a consultative manner with a buyer's agent , please feel free to email or call me to decide if I could provide you with the level of representation necessary in this market.
My husband drives into the city, he's in sales and never takes trains so that is not an issue for us.
I suggest you visit the schools of all areas you are considering since this is a major factor. Hillsborough schools while not top ranked are good. I served on the Hopewell Valley school board and can say that you as parents will make the biggest difference in how well your children do in and out of school. For the commute to NYC, parking at the station will likely be a problem. As the market has dropped and continues this you may want look into renting either Montgomery or West Windsor (consider Princetons and Hopewell too for that matter) and sell your Hillsboro home now. After renting you may find you love or hate the change and will have invested far less.
East Windsor's tax rate is significantly higher than Plainsboro West Windsor --East Windsor property taxes for a $350k home avg to around $8000
However there are newer single family homes & townhomes in an affordable price range.
West Windsor has a tax rate of 1.9 & Plainsboro 2.1........both were reassessed in 2005 & 2006 & listing prices & sale prices have come down 8-10 % since last year, making it affordable for first time buyers in the area.
Values have held up well despite the downtrend & the proximity to the Princeton Junction train station & the schools ( in NJ magazine's Top 10 list) are the factors.
Having said that WWP is not 'the best' .......the are in the Top 10 though for the last few years.
You could review schools at http://www.GreatSchools.net
Montgomery & Hopewell ...both offer better choices than East Windsor ( IMHO) , depending on your flexibility & commute options.
Montgomery offers excellent schools, proximity to Princeton, reasonable taxes & has both options--newer single family & townhomes with basements ( some finished)
Hopewell has some beautiful single family new(er) and townhomes --lots of nice features & probably the most affordable for the features & age range offered.
Here are links that may hlep
Please email or call if you wanted to discuss available options based on your lifestyle requirements & priority list.
I have been working with buyers for the last year or so, quite consistently & have a hands on understanding of inventory, price points & features based on these different areas & communities, and would be happy to share with you any aspect that helps you find the most suitable area & home.
Yes West Windsor Plainsboro schools are typically among the best in the state. (I never heard that claim for East Windsor) Taxes are high everywhere in NJ. The most expensive homes in East Windsor are typically far less than West Windsor and Plainsboro's. The West Windsor schools are very competitive so look at your childrens ability to be in a very large district with many very bright children. If you would like a free relocation package covering the area feel free to email me.
Kenneth"Ken" Verbeyst CRS GRI ABR SRES
Prudential NJ Properties
LIcensed NJ&PA and relocation certified